Saturday, December 24, 2016

How to Survive the Winter

As mentioned in a previous post, we've been dealing with a bad case of cabin fever at our house.  We've been shuttered inside with a tiny new baby, a toddler who has been going kind of crazy, and freezing temperatures outside.  A visit to the physical therapist has me mostly walking like a normal person, from one side of the apartment to the other.  It's been driving me crazy, and Justin crazy, and Vivian...poor Vivian.  We knew the situation had become desperate one evening when Vivian started racing back and forth between the living room and kitchen at full speed while screaming at the top of her longs.  Justin stopped her and asked what she was doing, she looked at him, and without a hint of anything but sincerity responded "just running back and forth screaming."  Justin and I looked at each other, and right there I think we were both game planning a vacation, because this sitting at home thing just wasn't working out.    

The next day we took a quick trip to Orem to see my family, and give Vivian a chance to play with her cousins.  She loved it.  It was not a fix to our problem.  We had to return to Logan for Justin to finish up his last few days of finals.  We attempted to fill our down time with shopping trips, and...okay, just shopping trips, because 1. we live in Logan, and it's very boring there in the winter.  2. the limited indoor activities that are available to small children are germ fairs, and I can't send Vivian there to pick up every nasty little bug in town and bring it home to her tiny brother.  So instead we've traversed every single aisle of our local Sam's Club, and Walmart, and the entire expanse of the Logan mall.  The mall is tiny, and can be explored in it's entirety inside of a couple of hours.  I know, because I've done it.  More than once.  

We took Vivian to a live nativity program, complete with sheep and a donkey.  She loved it.  It was ten degrees outside, it wasn't all that exciting, and the best part was the refreshments afterwards.  We loved it too, we were frozen, but we were outside!  Only for five minutes or so, since the majority of the program took place inside the warm chapel.  We drove around the valley looking for Christmas lights.  We found some decent displays.  We loved it, because we were doing something besides sitting at home, but the kids...yeah, it was definitely the kids, were crabby and so it was sort of short-lived.  We came home, we booked ourselves in for three nights at the timeshare in St. George, and called my parents to announce that we would be spending Christmas Eve with them on our way back to Logan.  We called Justin's parents to announce that we'll be visiting them next in Boise.  We started packing.  Finals were done, there just wasn't any reason to stay in that situation.  I've decided the key to surviving winter in Logan is to leave Logan as much as possible.

We made our escape Sunday evening.  Justin had a couple of drill days to make up from missing them for Ivan's birth (I just get to have them excused since I actually gave birth).  Since we were in Orem for a few days, Justin used the chance to take Vivian to a BYU basketball game.  They returned home happy, thrilled really, to have been out and about having fun outside of the house.  The next day we headed to warm, sunny St. George.  It was not warm, and it was not sunny in St. George.  It was cold and overcast.  We spent the first evening settling in, and watching BYU win their bowl game in a downpour.  The next day that storm moved into St. George.  We are not that easily deterred.  We loaded up the kids and drove to Zion National Park.  It was cold, it was wet, and rain had not been in the forecast.  We had nothing waterproof.  However, Zion is always beautiful.  Always.  We drove from one end of the canyon to the other, and out through the tunnel and back in again, taking in all the waterfalls, and the colors that are twice as vibrant when wet.  We attempted a hike, but we had nothing waterproof to shield Ivan from the cold rain, so a short way down the first trail we thought better of it and cut things short.  

Ivan is a big fan of me.  He just sort of tolerates his dad...sometimes.

This was during lunch in the car, to stay dry.

Vivian was loving the experience
During this lunch break I went to change Ivan's diaper as he was stretched out across my lap.  It was all going so well. I was just finishing up when he suddenly experienced an explosive poop.  Justin sitting next to me in the passenger's seat was covered.  He was too shocked at first to do anything but just sit there stunned, and then laugh, and then use dozens of wet wipes to wash off himself and everything in the nearby vicinity that was doused.  My little Ivan looked very content and happy with himself.

Prior to our attempted hike. It was only sprinkling lightly.
We can't catch the colors well, this doesn't do it justice.

A little family photo. It was raining pretty hard, so Ivan is just a little bundle.

Raindrops on the lens, but the canyon was amazing in the rain.
Even in the freezing cold rain, and from the confines of our car, Zion is spectacular, and I still love being there.  It was still pouring rain when we called it for the day and headed back to St. George.

The next morning we got a late start.  This happens a lot with a newborn it seems.  We're ready to leave, and Ivan needs to eat.  We're ready to leave and he blows out a diaper.  We're ready to leave and he wants to eat again.  We're ready to leave and Vivian needs a diaper change.  It went on and on like that for a while that morning, but we were eventually able to actually leave.  We headed straight to Snow Canyon State Park.  My family used to vacation there when I was younger, but I haven't been back on my own, so it's been years.  Why has it taken me so long to come back?  It's more beautiful than I remember.  

Still no sun anywhere to be found, but at least it wasn't raining.
It was still very cold, with a strong canyon wind, but we bundled up Ivan and decided to take the chance to tackle a couple of very short, easy hikes.  The first one was a little slot canyon, with a nearby overlook.  

She was unhappy about the idea of returning to the car.
Next we drove over to the petrified dunes and let Vivian play around on the slick rock.  It was really windy up on the rocks though, so our time there was a bit limited.  

It was beautiful, and worth braving the cold.
We called it and returned to the timeshare for Vivian's nap.  During her nap I turned on the TV to check the weather reports for the trip home the next day.  The first weather report was not encouraging.  A few minutes later they repeated the weather with the forecast adjusted, and it sounded even more worrisome.  When they repeated the weather a third time the weather man stated that for people planning on driving I-15 in Southern Utah to a Christmas destination, "if you haven't left yet, leave now."  We debated whether or not this applied to us.  At first we decided that it did not.  After thinking it over, and considering the fact that we now have a 2-year old and 3-week old in tow, we reconsidered and decided that it did in fact apply to us.  Justin started loading the car.  When Vivian woke up we explained to her that there was a little change of plans.  We told her that we wouldn't be going to see the nativity with real camels after all, but we could still go see the temple lights before we started the drive back to Grandma and Grandpa's.  We offered her french fries for dinner as a consolation, and she was easily persuaded.  World class parenting.  

We cruised back to the parents on clear roads. We got in late, but without incident, and judging on some of the weather reports we saw today, it seems like we made the right choice.  As Justin pointed out, even if the storm hadn't ever amounted to anything, we have two very small people counting us, which still made it the right choice.  We're still not ready to just be stuck at home, so next up we'll recharge a bit, give the kids a break from their car seats, and then see if we can't find a break in the snow to make our way to Idaho.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Four of Us

On December 2nd we became a family of four.  This time we welcomed a little boy.  He came much earlier than I had really anticipated at 38 weeks and 5 days.  Vivian was late, so I was expecting to get at least one more week of prep time before my doctor wanted to induce me.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law arrived here early to watch Vivian, just in case.  She was only here a day when my water broke, and Ivan Wesley was born a mere four and a half hours later.  I don't really know what we would have done with Vivian had Michelle not arrived when she did.  I guess Justin would have stayed home and I would have gone in myself, and prayed that someone from Orem could make it up here to take over for him?  I don't know, and I'm just glad that was a bridge we didn't end up having to cross.

I've heard that boy babies are so much harder than baby girls.  Harder in that they don't sleep.  I told myself that if we had a boy I needed to prepare myself for being tired and crabby all the time.  So here we are a week into life with my tiny baby boy and, knock on wood, but we're all getting plenty of sleep.  This kid is such a good baby that he makes me rethink my earlier claims that Vivian was easy.  He eats well, he sleeps well, and he smiles.  I rarely hear him cry.  Okay, actually he cries each and every time I change his diaper.  Generally speaking though, in his waking hours he just lays there watching us, and making occasional soft little grunts and cooing noises.  He sleeps so well that I have panicked at the doctor about it and received instructions to wake him every four hours at night to feed him.  The doctor has concluded that my milk must be very rich, hence the long sleep hours, and that Ivan's gaining weight at an exceptional rate, and doing great.  We're just hoping that this pattern continues.  So far the hardest part about having a baby boy is that this kid pees out everything.  Everything.  I sometimes wonder why we're even bothering with a diaper at all, the containment appears to be extremely limited, limited as in non-existent. 

Now as for the rest of us, we've hit a few bumps in the road.  Justin is finishing up the semester.  We had hoped that school would be done by the time the baby arrived, but Ivan had his own plan.  So Monday morning Justin was gone by 5:40am, and thankfully Andrew's wife Kate volunteered to come up from Draper and spend the day helping me out with Vivian.  Tuesday we were on our own, and it went okay, but for the fact that I have this weird issue where my pelvis gets twisted.  It happened after I had Vivian but it's worse this time.  Sometimes it's very hard to walk and I find myself staggering about the house like a 90 year old woman.  I had to call Kate and ask her to come back to help out on Wednesday again while Justin was gone all that day too.  In the midst of all of this is poor Vivian.  Her world has been turned upside down.  She's trapped at home, inside all day,  sharing attention with a tiny baby, from a mother that moves like pond water.  However, Justin's classes are done, he's got one final this week, and we're already starting to plot out our escape options from the onset of a case of cabin fever.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bidding Farewell to "Colorful Colorado"

At last our summer in Colorado was coming to an end.  We still had a long list of things we wanted to do and places we had hoped to visit, but time ran out faster than the list.  However, Justin's internship there went well, so well in fact that they invited him back for next summer.  (We'll have to see how that works out with his ROTC training schedule.)  So we optimistically tell ourselves that we'll be back again next year to finish off that list.  It's a cautious optimism though, since really our plans for our future seem to be ever-altering and adjusting.  We're to the point where we hardly bother trying to guess where we'll find ourselves next, but rather just trust that wherever it is, it's for our best.

All that in mind, we knew that we had to leave as soon as the internship ended to head back to Utah and finish up some make-up drills before school started for Justin.  His last day was a Friday, and the way we figured it, that gave us the chance to leave Colorado Springs Friday and make one little stop on the way back to Utah.  We had wanted to visit Colorado National Monument, just outside of Grand Junction, for a long time, and this was probably our best chance.  I spent the last few days in the Springs packing and cleaning, and shortly after Justin was released from work Friday afternoon we cleared our apartment and said goodbye to Colorado Springs.

We spent the night in a hotel in Glenwood Springs that night, and the next morning we drove into Colorado National Monument, reassuring ourselves that this would really only take a couple of hours to do it justice.  My first thought on exiting the car is that it might really only take 15 minutes.  How did I not think this through enough to realize that it would be blazing hot in August out there in the desert?  I don't know, but it was miserable hot.  Truthfully I was feeling ready to call it right there, but I'm always grateful, after the fact, for a husband who is undeterred by my crappy attitude and insists that we forge ahead.

We found the trail head where several hikes we'd read about started, and after some deliberation selected a hike and started down the trail.  We were about 5 minutes into the hike before we realized that Vivian was in need of a diaper change and there wasn't a place aside from the middle of a sandy trail anywhere in sight where we could conduct one.  On the way back to the car I felt some irresistible urge to argue with my husband about the hike we were getting ready to do.  Maybe we can blame this on the pregnancy?  The heat?  The smelly diaper?  I don't know,  but he blames it on me being deaf and inattentive while he was trying to review all the options with me earlier.  Fair point.  Either way, we got the diaper changed, agreed on a hike, this time with my full participation, and set off towards Devil's Kitchen.

The hike proved to be a little bit harder than we'd expected, mostly because it was so hot out there, and I move super slow when hiking pregnant.  
From the trail head

Approaching Devils Kitchen

The view of the sky from inside of Devils Kitchen, just to show how narrow it was inside of there.

My people at the entrance.
 Once we got up to Devils Kitchen it was really pretty, and a very interesting narrow little sandstone feature.  However, I was pretty much terrified of letting Vivian out of the back pack, since there were openings in the rock wall that opened up to cliffs with hundred foot drop offs on the other side.  I wasn't totally sure that I could maintain safe control of my toddler in that environment.
Vivian sipping water from the camelback while still strapped into the back pack. 
Justin exploring one of the openings in the rock wall

He wanted to inch even further out to get a better shot of the scenery on the other side, but I freaked out and insisted he abandon that plan.

Justin exploring yet another hole in the rock wall.

Justin finally talked me into letting Vivian come join him, with promises to keep a hand on her at all times.

She loves hiking with him.

...and the feeling is pretty mutual.

Eventually Justin was able to talk me into making my way up to one of the bigger openings to see out the other side and get this picture.

As it turns out these two spent hours hiking around in there, exploring together.  Justin followed through, and held her hand the entire time.  

We stopped for a snack break.

This was a bit much to try and tackle with Vivian, so he made the climb up there alone.
After spending way more time than we had anticipated on a single, short hike, we finally headed back to the car, to continue through the monument on the scenic drive that skirts the canyon rims.  

We made multiple stops along the way, and basically took about twice the time we expected to make it to the visitor's center on the other side of the monument, where we had plans to stop for a very overdue lunch.  We packed up our food and went for what was supposed to be a very short hike to a picnic area, that turned into a long hike that took us nowhere.  Everyone was tired, hungry, and crabby at that point, and the feeling was doubled when it became obvious that we'd be best off turning around and hiking back to the visitor's center picnic area.  

Trudging back to the visitor's center for lunch
After lunch we loaded back into the cars, and stopped outside of the monument for our picture at the sign.  Vivian doesn't appear in this one.  She was so exhausted that we determined that it was borderline mean to wake her up again for this picture.

This is the phase of the pregnancy where I still just look fat, not pregnant.
After that we left Colorado, and made our return to Utah.  It's good to be back, but we're looking forward to hopefully another summer next year back in Colorado.